Feb 042013

The following error message may appear when trying to open a hyperlink (website URL) from within a program: ! Cannot download the information you requested.

Hyperlinks to website addresses are often included in Microsoft Word documents, Excel spreadsheets or Outlook Emails etc – in this case, instead of opening the website in your default web browser when you click the hyperlink, the error message appears.

Cause Of The Error Message – I came across this error message whilst testing how to work offline in Chrome recently. The typical cause is an odd one – regardless of whether or not you ever use IE, if IE is set to ‘Work Offline’ then web hyperlinks will fail to open and this message is displayed.

If you use Google Chrome or Firefox etc as your default web browser (and hyperlinks normally open directly in that browser) you could be forgiven for thinking that IE settings have nothing to do with it. However, this isn’t the case – without getting too technical, it is likely that the Windows file type of ‘URL’ is still associated with IE.

Therefore, if IE is set to Work Offline, the hyperlink URL can’t be opened (as Windows thinks you have no internet access and are working offline) – even though your default browser may be online and you can open the website if you copy and paste the URL link into it…


Fixing The Error Message

Tip: similar error messages may be caused by other issues e.g. the hyperlink is invalid (copy and paste it into a web browser to see if it opens directly) or corruption of the specific program. This solution applies to the exact error message shown above.

Open IE and click on ‘Tools’ in the Command Bar then click on ‘Work Offline’ to untick it – the hyperlink should now open in your default web browser as usual.


Open IE and click on ‘File’ in the Menu Bar (if Menu Bar is hidden, press ALT to display it) then click on ‘Work Offline’ to untick it – the hyperlink should now open in your default web browser as usual.


This “! Cannot download the information you requested” error message is unusual in that even if IE is not your default browser, IE settings can still prevent hyperlinks from opening.

However, the potential solution is easy and worth investigating before trying more complex fixes such as repairing MS Office or reinstalling a web browser.

  24 Responses to “How To Fix A Cannot Download The Information You Requested Error Message On Hyperlinks”

  1. It worked for me!!! Firefox was my default internet. I got the error message in Word: “Cannot download the information you requested.” I opened IE (after I figured out what IE was….Internet Explorer), found the correct Tools icon (it was the Tools with the arrow down button next to it on the lower level tool bar–not the one up next to Favorites and Help), and unchecked Work Offline. I’m just wondering why / how it got checked!! Whatever. It worked….Thanks for the simple solution, Roy!

  2. After spending the best part of an hour googling an answer to the question “cannot download the information you requested” yours was the simplest answer to my problem! Thank you 🙂

  3. That was a great tip. the issue started in excel 2 days ago. Chrome is my default. Not sure how i selected work offline in IE, but de-selecting it did the trick . Thanks!

  4. It worked! Fantastic. Thanks for the great note and help. What a simple solution. And one cannot even imagine that IE is causing it.

  5. I have IE11 installed on my system and apparently ‘work offline’ has been removed from this version, but I’m still getting the “! Cannot download the information you requested.” error when trying to open a link in both word or excel. Is there anything I can do to get the links to work?

    • hi Richard, is the exact message “Cannot download the information you requested” or perhaps is it “Unable to open. Cannot download the information you requested” ? there are two different messages for what i believe to be two different problems and the fix is different depending. check out my post from 9/7/13 and see if the other fix applies to you.

  6. I’m getting this error on a Mac using Powerpoint for Mac 2011 version 14.4.8. That means I don’t even have IE installed anywhere. Any idea on how to fix this on a Mac, or is it simply yet another Microsoft Mac sabotage?

    • @Joe – my understanding is that some HTML functions don’t exist in Mac Office so only very basic HTML hyperlinks may work, not all.

      e.g. no links to HTTPS (secure) websites, no ASP, no cookies, no Visual Basic/VBA and no JavaScript – unfortunately that rules out most hyperlinks nowadays…

  7. Sometimes it cannot download an https:// webpage (http secure). Once can make the registry setting mentioned in this link. This worked for me: